About Us Riverside Tire Center Sealy, TX
The history of Riverside Tire Center begins back in 1940 on the banks of the Brazos River between Sealy and Brookshire. A river bridge that replaced a ferry had been completed two years prior and a real paved road, U.S. Highway 90, replaced an old dirt road, the new highway would be the primary avenue of travel between Houston and San Antonio. This is the spot Louis Sodolak, Sr. picked to build his new business, Riverside Service Station. He chose Texaco brand of gasoline to sell that would continue to be the brand for 52 years and through three generations of Sodolaks. Tires were also sold at this time. Louis Sodolak, better known as Pop, built a rodeo arena with bleachers behind the service station that would attract a large crowd on Sundays. Pop had five children that worked in the business. His three sons: Bill, Eddie, and Louis Jr. had to leave to join the military during World War II. Bill joined the Army Air Corps in 1942 and served until 1946. Louis, Sr.’s Irene and Bertha continued to work.
Immediately upon his discharge, Bill returned home and took over Riverside. In 1948, Bill along with his wife Gladys, added a restaurant to the business. A name change was in store to reflect the growing enterprise, Riverside Service Station and Café. The business also included weekend turkey shoots and barbecue.
Everything went great until it was decided that U.S. Highway 90 from Houston to San Antonio needed to be reconstructed into a new highway, Interstate 10. In 1964, the state and federal government forced the sale of the building and land at a price they determined through Eminent Domain. As you travel eastbound to Houston on Interstate 10, your vehicle will run over the site of the old business just before you reach the bridge.
The all new Riverside Service Station and Café opened in September 1965 at the present location. When the doors opened, the overpass, the present day feeder roads and both lanes of Interstate 10 were still in the dirt stage. The business sold gasoline, a few tires, and meals to hungry patrons that stopped by.
The whole family worked at Riverside including Bill and Gladys’, three daughters Rosemary, Margaret, and Kathryn and their son Bill, Jr. The business stayed open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas. After the new highway was completed, many of the old customers returned and many new customers discovered Riverside.
The year 1976 brought a profound change to the company due to Bill’s death two days after his 55th birthday. Bill, Jr. was in his second year of college at this time and had to work mostly full time in the business to help keep it operating. It was during this time that Bill, Jr. determined that the real future of Riverside was in tires and automotive services. Three years later Riverside’s first computer tire balancer was purchased and soon after Bill’s graduation from Texas A&M University the first computer alignment machine was acquired. Immediately after graduation, he married his wife Suzanne.
Riverside was now in the gasoline, tire, and automotive business. In 1982 Bill and Suzanne bought out the ownership of his mother Gladys and his three sisters. In 1983, the first four of fourteen service bays were constructed. Within six years it was determined that the tire and auto service business was growing at a pace that eventually require the whole property, so steps were taken to leave the restaurant and gasoline business.
As of today, a fourth generation of Sodolaks, Angela and Christopher, have both graduated from Texas A&M University and joined their parents working at Riverside Tire Center on a full-time basis. As usual, changes are still being made. The company entered into the billboard business in 1995.